Monday, June 16, 2014

Skipping to First Grade

First grade was something that was a bit of a memory lost for me. Previous to going to school, I was put into a dance class (to make sure I could perform like Shirley Temple, I surmise) and at  home, my father read me the comics every night, thank heavens.

I say, thank heavens, because by October, I got sick. I had measles, mumps and whooping cough, one right after the other.  During that time, I was able to read a lot of my children's books, including the Night Before Christmas, my favorite.

My first day out of bed was Christmas morning. I got up and got dressed in a neat dark blue sailor dress with a red bow tie in front.  I had asked for a bicycle for Christmas and I got one. OMG.  It was there leaving against the banister of the newest apartment we had, that over a shoemaker shop. My heart dropped. It was the wrong bicycle.  Was Santa a fault or . . . ?

The bicycle was a light green boy's bicycle with fat balloon tires. I had wanted a bicycle, but, . . . I was a girl, not a boy. The poor bicycle never got ridden the whole time I had it and even after we moved across from my father's work, I never even considered it mine

First grade after I returned to school, I remember being on stage at school in a cute red satin Russian outfit. It had short skirt with a white feather hemline trim, and red vest with a white blouse, and a tiara of red satin like the skirt, trimmed in silvery ribbons and a lot of long colored ribbons hanging down from each side.

A doll visited our first grade. She had all sorts of clothes to wear, even pajamas. She had a toothbrush and a hair brush and her own soap and washcloth. She was beautiful. Her owner said that she herself, never used soap on her face, but she neglected to tell us that she used creams and ointments. It took me a long time before I figured out that the creams and ointments had more to to with the face of the doll's owner than the doll that used soap and water.

Regardless when spring time rolled around, and the whole school was having a morning recess in the school yard, there were several wagons outside the school yard.  One in particular was a Bread wagon, all green and gold with big wheels with yellow spokes and a red or brown rim.

For some reason, the horse pulling the wagon spooked from something on the road, and it frightened him so that he ran right over the curb, breaking one wheel on the wagon, and headed straight into the school yard.  I was way in the back leaning on the small metal bannister because I had just recently returned to school and was still not able to play with the children. I was taking it "easy."

All the children started screaming at once, and running to get away from the horse and wagon.  A man, from a different wagon ran into the yard from the street, grabbed the horse's harness and stopped him in his run towards the children. I could not understand why everyone was screaming and crying. I saw who the man was and he was perfectly capable of stopping the horse. It was my father in his milk  run, or he was checking up on whether I was doing well in school.

I never told anyone who the man was, nor did anyone ever ask me about him. I did think it was neat, but no one, not even my father at home, said a word about catching the horse.

Back in the school room, probably one another day, I was reading my reader.  I said, "Oh, Nuts!" A common cuss word for children. My seat mate was aghast. "You said a bad word."  My response was, "No, I did not. It is here in our book."  And I showed her the page next to the picture of a nut tree right next to the text. That was that. She never said another word.

In the class, we had only one black boy learning his ABC's. but most of the time he fell asleep. When my sister went to that school 16 years later, she was the only white girl in the class. The neighborhood had changed that drastically.  In the early years, though I had to walk home and the shortest route was through the black neighborhood. I only could do that one time, because the children there ganged up on me and I guess they threatened me, so I never went through the area again.

By summer time, we had moved across the street from Miller and Flounder's Dairy, where my father worked. It was a white house with two floors. My father put in an oil heater in the fireplace and a plywood, high step-over door in the archway to the porch.  He then rented the upstairs to an older couple who, although I would go upstairs and read the Sunday comics where my father stored them in an extra room on the second floor, I never met them.

Not even when we got the chicken coup from the neighbor behind us who was moving to the city. Mom would make the attic into a nursery for the new chicks and I would visit them all the time.
We would have Sunday dinner, a chicken that she would prepare in the morning, starting with cutting off its head, and we would eat him in the afternoon. We also had eggs every morning for breakfast.

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